Two Tea Treats

FoodTeaLife’s been a little quiet lately, mostly thanks to a holiday diet and denying myself the pleasures cheese and wine far too much. However, there have been a few indulges to brighten the diet days – you’ve got to have things to look forward to after all.

First up was a fabulous afternoon tea in London at The Berkeley, a real girly treat. Named Prêt-à-Portea, it’s something of an unique twist on the traditional afternoon tea, with all the cakes and treats inspired by designer fashion and the latest trends. It was a colourful affair, reflecting the Spring/Summer 14 season’s designer collections with cakes and biscuits in the shape of shoes and bags and colours straight off the catwalk. It was delicious too, from the delicate sandwiches to the chocolate shoes – I ate a lot of fashion themed treats that afternoon!

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Beautiful fashion inspired treats – thanks to Aminah for the image

The staff at The Berkeley were wonderful too, taking the time to explain the fashion inspiration behind every sweet treat and bringing more of anything you wanted! I haven’t even started on the tea yet (which there was unlimited supply of!). I sipped earl grey and later moved on to a delicate fresh mint tea. My companions however enjoyed a caramel tea and a ginger tea – there were plenty more interesting blends too. Even the coffee was fabulous too.

Cutest cappuccino ever? Thanks again to Aminah for this lovely image

Cutest cappuccino ever? Thanks again to Aminah for this lovely image

I must say a huge thanks to Aminah for organising such a wonderfully decadent girly get-together and for the beautiful photos! It certainly was an occasion to remember.

Treat number two was a little more local, a special pre-birthday indulgence with my mum and sister at The Winchester Hotel and Spa. I was treated to a manicure, something I’ve never actually had before. I was delighted with the results – I’m loving my elegantly coloured nails! Let’s see how long I can keep them chip free for.

We followed our beauty treats with a foodie treat, a cream tea! And what a spectacularly generous cream tea it was, we got far more that simply scones and tea…

Tea at the Winchester Hotel & Spa

My wonderful birthday treat at The Winchester Hotel & Spa

There were rhubarb pastries, strawberries, miniature éclairs and more. It was a real feast and we enjoyed it sipping earl grey outside in the sunshine. Perfect weather and the best company – probably the best Sunday ever I’d say! A massive thank you of epic proportions goes to my sister and mum for this special treat.

Feeling very lucky right now (and full of cake).

xXx

Food Art

I’m working with someone who creates beautiful cakes at the moment and it’s really got me thinking about food as art. From Latte Art Championships for Baristas to the delightful culinary artworks of Ida Frosk (she’s amazing!) – food is an art medium all of its own.

Here are some fabulous cakes I snapped at a recent visit to the trade show Hotelympia (terrible photography as usual from me)…

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Best wedding cake ever! Pirate themed perfection.

 

Truly a work of art!

Truly a work of art!

Another beautiful cake, I love the cherry blossom detail

Another beautiful cake, I love the cherry blossom detail

Pretty amazing aren’t they?! And to think, I’m usually just happy if I dish I’ve created turns out vaguely looking like it does in the recipe picture! That doesn’t happen all that often. However, all the inspirational food art I’ve seen lately has got me thinking I just might start working on my food presentation a little more where I can. After all we do so often eat with our eyes first don’t we? I doubt I’ll be creating anything you could call a work of art any time soon though. So…if you have any special food presentation tips, do share them with me!

xXx

 

Last weekend’s foodie highlights

Well, the title says it all really…

Last Friday night’s visit to the Chesil Rectory was a lovely last minute treat. The menu was great, just look at these yummy starters…

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Portland Crab, Secrett’s Beetroots, Avocado, Mayonnaise         

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Treacle Cured Salmon, Brixham Scallop, Pickled Ginger

And of course there’s the beautiful Cottonworth rose to enjoy when at the Chesil Rectory. This English sparkling wine is every bit as lovely as something like a Laurent Perrier Rose. It’s local too, if you haven’t tried it already, it’s a must! You can also get it from Wine Utopia in Winchester.

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On Saturday I ate at an old favorite that never disappoints, The Bugle Inn, Twyford. The tasty bacon chop on their menu at the moment is highly recommended! It comes served on a bed of bubble and squeak with a poached egg on top and some gorgeous cauliflower cheese – it was heavenly and certainly very filling! No pictures due to me being a greedy guts and scoffing it all without thinking of my blog!

You wouldn’t think I could eat more food in one weekend…but I did. To celebrate my dad’s Birthday a fabulous family party tea was put on at home. Featuring afternoon tea, triangle sandwiches, my sister’s yummy mocha cupcakes and a scone or two, it was a fine birthday feast! Here’s a snapshot…
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Definitely a few fast days need this week after a full on weekend of food, glorious food!

xXx

Belated Black White Red Post

Black White Red is new(ish) to Winchester, however I can’t pretend I’m bringing you brand new exciting news here as every time I set foot in the place I see someone I know! So word has definitely already spread about how good it is. I have always said that FoodTeaLife is my place to talk about the things I love though, so Black White Red is getting a brief blog post anyway!

Even before eating there I’d heard rave reviews about the food… ‘best brownie ever’, great for lunch, lovely brunch, ‘amazing eggs’.

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Happily I wasn’t disappointed when I tried a flapjack on my second visit…lovely gooey deliciousness…

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Tea fans will be pleased with the loose leaf tea offering and the coffee was good too. Nice selection of wines as well, I hope to be able to sample some more soon!
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What can I say, if you haven’t already been…go! It’s perfect for pre-dinner or theatre drinks but it’s also a great coffee and catch up kind of place. It’s good to have somewhere that caters nicely to both of these occasions.

I’m sure I’ll be visiting again soon, so perhaps I’ll see you there!

xXx

Afternoon of Delights at Lainston House

As I hinted in the last FoodTeaLife post my birthday surprise turned out to be afternoon tea at Lainston House Hotel in Sparsholt – a wonderful treat!

I do love a good afternoon tea experience, it’s just so indulgent and befitting of a special occasion – so I’m happy to say that Lainston House did not disappoint on this front! Here are a few snaps from the scrumptious feast…

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The adorable crust-cut-off sandwiches even featured a special miniature brioche roll with an egg mayonnaise filling – delicious! The cakes were delightful too, a good selection including this delicate raspberry macaron…

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The cake stand’s top tier had an extra surprise…toasted tea cakes as well as scones! Scones are of course the traditional end to afternoon tea but the inclusion of tea cakes made for a nice change. I’m not ashamed to say I scoffed it all! It was excellent.

I haven’t even mentioned the tea yet! There was a nice choice of loose leaf blends, I opted for a strong and malty cup of Assam. The staff at Lainston house were very attentive too, making sure to replenish our hot water regularly.

To top it all off it was was a beautiful day to explore the stunning grounds too…

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All in all, a very special birthday! A huge thank you to the best family in the world for such a luxurious treat xXx

Bank Holiday Bits & Bobs

Ahhh, the end of a four day working week – lovely! Wasn’t the bank holiday weather brilliant? I tried to make the most of it with some Winchester walks and a new forest day trip too. Here’s a little look my bank holiday weekend in pictures…

The perfect mode of transport for a bank holiday day trip…

Day tripping in style!

Day tripping in vintage style!

We paid a visit to the pretty little town of Lyndhurst in the New Forest…

I do love a bit of bunting!

I do love a bit of bunting!

We called in at The Tea House for some refreshments – how could I not with a name like that?!

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Tea and cake heaven!

It had to be a cup of vintage earl grey of course, which was absolutely lovely!

A pretty little pyramid of tea

A pretty little pyramid of tea

There were so many tempting cakes to choose from as well as scones, sandwiches and lovely lunch options too. I could have eaten everything on the menu but in the end made the snap decision to enjoy an omelette (I’m terrible at making them myself so it’s a treat to have a nice one made for me).

Too many cakes to choose from

Too many cakes to choose from!

Back in Winchester, the sunny weather left me a bit of golf widow – but I made the most of it with walks along the water meadows and up St. Giles Hill – you can’t beat that view of the city…

Beautiful Winchester

Beautiful Winchester!

Somewhere I also found time to eat at Hotel Du Vin (very nice!) and fit in a trip to the cinema – how great is Winchester’s cinema? Okay so there’s not much parking, it’s a bit pricey and the popcorn can be hit or miss – but you can take in a nice glass of wine or a G&T! It does add to the cinematic experience I find!

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The fabulous HDV Winchester

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Love this cinema!

Hope I’ve provided you with some weekend inspiration…whatever you get up to this weekend – enjoy it!

xXx

Afternoon Tea Delights at The Vineyard

It’s well documented that I do like to partake in a spot of afternoon tea and so my mum’s recent birthday provided a great excuse to get the family together for some tea and cake. As a surprise for my mum, my sister and I booked the afternoon tea experience at The Vineyard at Stockcross, which turned out to be just lovely.

The-Vineyard

For those of you who don’t know it the Vineyard at Stockcross is in Berkshire (not Hampshire I know, but worth the drive!), it’s fairly near Newbury and just off the A34 so very easy for Winchester folk to get to. It’s a beautiful, grand looking place, known for its fine dining, so we knew we were in for a treat with their afternoon tea.

We were seated by the fireplace on comfy sofas as it was a special occasion, where we sipped cups of lovely earl grey tea. When the afternoon tea came, it certainly was a feast…

Vineyard Afternoon Tea

Small, perfectly formed sandwiches with crusts cut off to start, followed by hearty fruit scones with cream and jam.

Vineyard Scones

 

Although I don’t have a photo I must say that the choice of homemade jams was lovely…it’s always nice to have an alternative to the traditional strawberry I think.

Last of all, we enjoyed a beautifully presented top tier of delightful little petit four style treats, including macarons and peanut éclairs…

Vineyard Petit Fours

All in all, it was a fabulously indulgent treat and we all left feeling rather full! It was perfect for a birthday celebration though. I’d definitely recommend the Vineyard for its afternoon tea, they do it properly! If you plan to book with them make sure you tell them if it’s a special occasion too. Visit their website for more www.the-vineyard.co.uk.

…Hopefully one day I’ll have had enough afternoon teas to be able to compile an amazing top ten best list…

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